Meeting Date: March 13, 2006
Board Members Present: Shelley Smith (President), Bob Cramer (Vice-President), Michael Duran (Vice-President), Jule Bishop (Treasurer), Judith Reel (Secretary), Garcelle Embry (Civil Director), Terri Siegel (Criminal Director)
SEIU Local 347 Representative Present: Bob Hunt (General Counsel)
I. New Business
A. SEIU Activities
Bob Hunt briefed the Board about actions by the International SEIU with respect to reorganization of local SEIU unions. The International has long discussed a desire to restructure in general, and in February notified Local 347 that it would hold hearings in March to discuss the organization of its California local unions. Currently there are approximately 30 local SEIU unions in California.
The SEIU International has scheduled a meeting on March 24 at the Sheraton in downtown Los Angeles to discuss whether to consolidate the SEIU California local unions that represent public employees. It has not yet informed the locals about the merits of consolidation nor the details of any proposal. At this time, the Local 347 Board believes that the members are best served by retaining the current structure with its emphasis on representing municipal employees. We will keep our members informed about any new developments.
B. Outside Counsel
A member raised an issue regarding whether management was required to meet and confer before using outside counsel. Bob Hunt advised that our MOU specifies that the Office has the right to contract out bargaining unit work so long as it does not cause any person to be laid off or a loss of authorized positions in the bargaining unit (Article 38). Notwithstanding the latitude granted to management to contract out attorney work, the Board discussed the effects of contracting out and whether and how the union could play a role in the process.
Board members expressed the view that LACAA members may have an institutional interest regarding the Office’s increased use of outside counsel, particularly to the extent that it may reflect adversely on the Office’s reputation and on our members’ ability to capably provide legal services. Certainly, where there is a conflict of interest that precludes representation by the Office, or a required speciality in an area outside the scope of traditional municipal representation, e.g., securities litigation, use of outside counsel appears entirely justified. Where our members have the knowledge and skill to perform work that is being contracted-out, but lack the necessary resources, then we believe that the issue would be better addressed by adding more resources.
Board members also discussed the manner of selecting outside counsel. In the past, city attorneys who worked in the division for which outside legal assistance was required participated in the selection process. It made sense to Board members to have attorneys with working knowledge of the matters which are being contracted out to participate in the selection process.
The Board agreed to discuss these issues in our monthly meetings with management, and to include proposals on this subject during the next M.O.U. negotiations, which will occur next year.
II. Old Business
A. Status Report re: Involuntary Transfers and Green Sheets
As discussed in the previous minutes, at lease five line deputies assigned to the Proprietary Branch departments were involuntarily transferred to new assignments; the number in fact may be larger because management has not provided the information we requested regarding the transfers. In addition, the previous minutes discussed management’s recent selection of attorneys to serve in supervisory positions without issuance of a green sheet or opportunity for others to apply.
The Board met informally with management to attempt to resolve the matter, but settlement efforts failed. As a result, the Board filed an Unfair Labor Practices Charge with the City’s Employee Relations Board against management arising out of the forced transfers and selection of supervisors without providing members the opportunity to apply for the positions. The Unfair also identifies as an unlawful act management’s subsequent refusal to meet and confer with the Union regarding the effects of the actions.
Management must file a written response to the Charge with the City’s Employee Relations Board, and the Board will then consider whether to refer the matter for a hearing before a hearing officer. The Board believes that the ERB will refer the matter to a hearing officer during the ERB meeting at the end of April.
Board members discussed the importance of our determined response to management’s actions. Given term limits and the necessary change in administration at least once every eight years, we believe it is imperative to protect to the fullest extent possible workplace stability for our members. This seems particularly keen in light of the high turnover in senior management in this administration. We believe that employees need protections against the natural inclination of newly hired senior management to put “their mark” on the Office and reorganize at the expense of our members. We will keep our members apprised of further developments.
B. Performance Recognition Program
Board members received verbal and written comments from members regarding the recent PRP process, and suggestions for future changes. Most members felt that the PRP was an improvement over an ad hoc method of promotions. There were specific suggestions for improving the PRP process including: (1) developing clear standards for recommending advancement; (2) allowing attorneys access to comments during the process with an opportunity to add comments; (3) seeking a better estimate of the number of available advancement opportunities; (4) ensuring that attorneys can obtain input from all recent supervisors in cases where there was a recent change in assignment; and (5) working to break down the wall between DCA III and DCA IV. The Board will communicate the members’ suggestions to management.
The issue arose whether management’s recommendations with respect to employees’ PRP applications should be placed in personnel files. The Board tendered a demand to management to meet and confer about the issue, and management agreed to defer making a decision about the issue until after the Board could meet and reach a consensus. The Board considered the issue and voted unanimously to oppose the placement of managements’ recommendations in personnel files.
The Board believes that since there was no opportunity to review and rebut or appeal the recommendations, it would be unfair to employees to have the recommendations become a permanent part of an employee’s personnel file.
The Board will communicate its vote to management, and will let you know about the outcome of discussions with management on this issue.